I spent a good chunk of money at the local bike shop on new jerseys and clothing before a pretty Cat 2 climb with Darin back to their hotel where I enjoyed dinner with the guys and enjoyed hearing about their stories from the past week.
The next day I planned to do Alpe d'Huez and after a massive downpour during the night the roads were wet, the air was humid, but the temperature was a comfortable 25 versus the 30+ the guys have been suffering through. There was a lot of debate in our house about what gearing to use for this trip and in the end Darin decided on a compact with a 12x28 cassette which has perfect for their long and epic rides. I decided on a standard crank and a 13x29 cassette as the only reason I go up is to come down as fast as I can. Last year I had used the compact and was running out of gears on the descents, so knowing that I wouldn't be doing the hard climbs day after day like the guys had, I chose to stick with my standard crank. The following graph shows the inclines for the ascent.
Having not ridden much in the past 3 weeks due to work commitments, I just settled in and rode, enjoying the climb and reading all the messages left from Tour de France fans on the road. I can only imagine what this mountain would look like full of a million or more spectators. The view on the mountain is very different then what you see on TV. The 21 switchbacks are only seen when looking down, and when you're going up you only see what is in front of you and the other cyclists you are trying to catch. It is a great climb, one that can be done as hard or as easy as you like and I had enough gears. Thanks to Grant for keeping me company and to Darin who drove support, took pictures, and cheered.
From Alpe d'Huez Darin and I made our way to Annecy by car where we'll be spending the next week. On the way we drove down the Galibier, a ride the guys had gone up. It was beautiful, long, and chilly. We stopped at the top to take the picture below and I can't wait to come back and do this climb on a bike - with a compact.